We have a saying in Welsh, “cenedl heb iaith, cenedl heb galon“– “A nation without a language is a nation without a heart“– and the Welsh language is still very much at the heart of our national culture.
It belongs to all the people of Wales, whether they speak it or not; it’s part of our common heritage, from the place-names all around us to the National Anthem. It’s spoken by over half a million people, and understood by many more.
Welsh is spoken by 19% of the population in Wales as a whole, and in many areas you’ll hear it used alongside English on the streets, in the shops and on the buses. (There’s also a sizeable Welsh diaspora in England).
The Welsh Government recently announced its plans to ensure that the language has a million speakers once again by 2050. Every child in Wales now has the opportunity to learn Welsh, and the demand for Welsh-medium education has grown consistently, particularly in Cardiff and the South East.
As a result, the language has become more ethnically diverse than ever before, with speakers from Asian and African backgrounds as well as from other parts of Europe. But Welsh has always been an inclusive language. It includes loan-words from Latin, Irish, Norse, Norman French, and of course, English.
Even in English-medium schools, Welsh is a compulsory curriculum subject up to GCSE level in Wales. Welsh is introduced as a second language in Year 3, and is typically given more weight than a second language would be in an English primary school.
Children are expected to develop skills in four areas of communication: oracy, reading, writing and wider communication. Welsh learning is extended throughout the curriculum: for example, children use ICT skills to develop their Welsh, and use the language in numeracy, information gathering and recording data. Up to 20 per cent of the overall teaching takes places in Welsh.
Although English is the first language in these schools, some Welsh is used, with the aim of improving children’s everyday language skills. It’s expected that children will go on to attend English-medium secondary schools, but continue to learn Welsh as a second language.
At Key Stage 4, students are given the option to study Welsh Second Language GCSE. Students can select this course when choosing their options in Year 9.
The Welsh department has access to a wealth of school resources, including Chromebooks, laptops, iPads and Kindles.
Pupils utilise a variety of these resources within their structured lessons, to help develop their ICT competency skills through the use of language.
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